Nairobi, Kenya (CNS) Some Catholic Church sources in Ethiopia have confirmed a report by two international human rights groups detailing widespread abuse in the western part of the Tigre region.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International’s report was published on April 6, days after the government announced a humanitarian ceasefire to deliver relief aid to thousands of local people at risk of starvation. Catholic authorities in Addis Ababa welcomed the ceasefire, even as the fighters – the Tigre People’s Liberation Front – agreed to maintain the ceasefire.
The report, “We Will Erase You From This Land: Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing in Ethiopia’s Western Tigre Zone,” said Western Tigre officials and security forces in the neighboring Amhara region – with the possible involvement of Ethiopian federal forces – is systematically Using threats since 2020, several million Tigrayan civilians have been expelled from the area. Authorities restricted movement, humanitarian aid, speaking the Tigrinya language, and access to the farm. Crops, livestock and equipment were looted.
Other abuses documented include unlawful killings, sexual violence, mass arbitrary detention, robbery, forced relocation, and denial of humanitarian aid.
“Ethiopian authorities have denied the startling breadth of crimes that have come to the fore and have severely failed to address them,” said Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth.
A church source who could not be named for security reasons told the Catholic News Service: “This is a very good report … about what is happening in the western Tigre, but highlights the presence and abuse of the Eritrean government in the region.” should be done. “
“The style of concentration camps and extra-judicial executions is the style of the Eritrean government. Some say that those responsible for the detention camps are the Eritrean military and security (forces).”
The Western Tigre is a fertile administrative region in the Tigre region, but its extent and identity have been the focus of disputes since 1992. Two weeks into the Tigre conflict, the western Tigre came under the control of the Ethiopian National Army, allied forces and militias. Amhara region.
The report recorded a massacre, although a church source thought there should have been more involved. For example, the report said, on January 17, 2021, Amhara militia known as Fanos and local residents detained dozens of male Tigreyan residents of Adi Goshu City on the banks of the Tekase River. The troops surrounded and briefly killed about 60 Tigreyan men.
In Tigre’s detention camps, many former detainees held at sites operated by Amhara forces and Fano militias died as a result of torture, denial of medical care, and lack of food and water. As per reports, the others were killed by the guards. Some local media reports said local officials were moving mass graves to remove evidence of the massacre.
“The response from Ethiopia’s international and regional partners has failed to reflect the seriousness of the ongoing crimes in the Western Tigre,” said Agnes Callamard, Secretary-General of Amnesty International.
The organizations want the Ethiopian government to ensure immediate and continued access to the area for humanitarian agencies, the release of all detainees, the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the abuses.
Both organizations suggest the deployment of an African Union-led international peacekeeping force to protect civilians, enable aid delivery, and protect communities at risk, but some church sources caution.
“The AU had already sided with Ethiopia, and especially Eritrea, at its annual meeting in Addis Ababa, when it praised Eritrea for its actions of peace in Ethiopia,” warned the church’s source.